February 25th, 2008
02:15 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama camp slams Clinton team on controversial photo

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/25/art.obamasom.ap.jpg caption=" Obama's campaign accused the Clinton campaign of circulating this 2006 photo of Obama Monday. "](CNN) - Barack Obama’s campaign accused Hillary Clinton’s team Monday of circulating a photo of the Illinois senator donning traditional attire – clothing worn by area Muslims – as a goodwill gesture during an overseas trip.

In a statement, the Clinton campaign called the charge “an obvious and transparent attempt to distract” voters from serious issues – but did not issue a denial.

The picture, which appeared on the Drudge Report this morning, was attributed to sources within the Clinton campaign – although the Web site did not reveal how many, or who, might have received the photo.

In a statement, Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said Clinton’s campaign was engaged in “shameful, offensive fear-mongering,” though he did not point to any proof beyond the original item that appeared on Matt Drudge’s blog.

“This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire,” said Plouffe. “and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world."

Earlier this year, some Clinton volunteers left her campaign in those states after circulating e-mails that falsely claimed Barack Obama was a Muslim – an inaccurate rumor his campaign has worked hard to dispel - and suggesting that his drug use as a young man might make him vulnerable to Republican attacks were he to become the nominee.

Clinton’s campaign manager Maggie Williams responded to the photo controversy with a Monday morning statement that insisted the New York senator’s team “will not be distracted,” but did not directly address the substance of the allegation.

“Enough. If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely,” said Williams.

“This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry. We will not be distracted.”

On a campaign conference call with reporters, Ret. Major Gen. Scott Gration, who traveled to Africa with Obama, said the photo showed that “he did what any great leader should do - he accepted the gift, accepted the hospitality, accepted that token of friendship."

UPDATE: On a conference call with reporters Monday, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson told reports that he had not seen the photo, that "I’m not aware that anyone in this campaign circulated it -- I don’t imagine that you have any independent reporting to suggest that we did."

Late Monday, the campaign sent out a memo in which Wolfson said he had not been aware of the release of the photo, and that it had not been sanctioned by the campaign -- but added that "We have over 700 people on this campaign and I’m not in a position to know what each one of them may or may not have done."

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
soundoff (575 Responses)

    CNN = OBAMA.

    I thought it was just me but it seems that CNN is reporting the news to favor Obama. I am glad I am not the only one who sees this. If they are like this they how can you trust anything they report.

    Too bad for CNN ... I will circulate this so that everyone knows.

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  2. William O

    This has got be the most shameful tactic to date for the Hillary campaign and that is saying a lot. She mocks his speeches, his 'big rallys' (because she's jealous and losing) and his hopeful message and now she stoops to fear mongering. I hope she realizes that this just galvanizes Obama's support. I'm donating more to his campaign just because of stuff like this.

    Obama '08!

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  3. Patrick, NYC

    It is clear that this picture was sent ou there with the intention to mislead those who aren't very bright. God knows we have a lot of those in this country. Who's supposed to benefit from this stunt? The Clinton camp of course!

    For those who tend to jump into conclusions, Obama is not saying he's not proud of the picture, he is merely condemning the misleading act behind it.

    Funny how the Clinton camp isn't answering the question directly... Especially since the answer seems so obvious. Yes, or No.

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. Will

    Will February 25th, 2008 12:00 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Why Obama campaign is outraged if they think the picture is fine? I don't understand, someone help me on this please?

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. t

    He is not ashamed of the picture it the fact that it was released in an attempt to push the completely false idea that he practices islam ( a contention he still has to deal with today) and this kind of stuff IS a distraction. People the clintons prey on the ignorance of the American electorate and if in office they will make sure there is even less we know. And ready to lead on day one, she cant even run her own campaign, seriously how is she expected to run a government. No thanks.

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. JA Cook

    Well, if the race card won't work, apparently an implied religious card might work.

    The Clintons ARE the OLD POLITICS. Let's get rid of them once and for all.

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  7. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    What's the purpose, Senator Clinton?

    This type of ad underlines your insensitivity towards other cultures and your desperate attempt to appeal to the worst side of human nature – prejudice.

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. Latina from Texas

    Obviously, Barack was not ashamed to accept the gift given by the Somali's or he would have not taken the time to wear the outfit and participate in the ceremonial event.

    Unfortunately, our country has enough Christian extremeists that will take the opportunity to exploit this negatively. Of course, that was the intention of the Clinton camp...Hillary you are the UNPATRIOTIC one.

    This election has showed me that liberal democrats and conservative republicans can agree on one issue....the Clintons are BAD for America!

    Si se puede!

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  9. Ommi

    This is the work of the Clintons they go low .

    Shame Shame Shame!!!

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. Faiz

    Hillary and Maggie just answer the question. Did you all post the picture in an attempt to smear Obama?

    Clinton: Ready for Shame on Day One!

    Obama '08

    February 25, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  11. Rusty Shackleford

    Well, I guess this will be the new attachment on all those wonderfully insane email forwards about Barack! Wow, this will be an interesting election to say the least. Obama better keep the private funding, because he's going to need every dime he can get to battle this viciously inaccurate crap over the coming months.

    February 25, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. Dee

    Translation of Maggie Williams response: "Yes, we sent out the e-mail. But we don't think it is divisive. There is more to come. Don't distract us."
    Why didn't she mention the objective of sending this photo out? Only Maggie Williams knows the reason.

    February 25, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  13. al

    Hillary Clinton is desicable!

    February 25, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. I.V

    Hillary and her camp have lost their mind. If she wins the nomination there's no way in hell that I'll vote for her. With this low and shady tactics and her creating this tension. She will be the reason Republicans are once again in the White House!

    February 25, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. Enderlyn from Canada

    Craig, obviously you haven't been following the media. Obama has been defending his religious beliefs since day 1. And there are still some people who are skeptical so Go figure. God knows what will come next from the Hillary campaign. I am starting to feel dizzy. Please God, let March 4th come really quick.

    February 25, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. a.n.

    This picture is about as low as it gets. I'm not an Obama supporter, but after seeing things like this there is no way I'd ever vote for Hillary. I can't believe her campaing is now trying to say that Obama is trying to shift from the issue, when they put this out. This is truly a new low in american politics.

    February 25, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |

    Saturday Night Live sucks...and has SUCKED for over 10 years now.

    February 25, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  18. Doug, DC

    This is despicable!! HRC is not only losing the nomination but it seems as if she's trying to lose the election for the Democrats!! I hope and pray that HRC supporters realize that the BIG PICTURE is to elect a democrat to the office whether its HRC or OBAMA!! We don't need four more years of Bush!! Please HRC, get it together and stop being DIVISIVE!! You are bigger than that!! For once, think about your country and not yourself!!

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. AZ

    This is low. Really, really low.

    This is RIGHT out of the Reublican playbook. Remember when Pelosi wore a headscarf out of deference to the culture when she went to Damascus? And how the GOP smear machine treied to smear her for it? Exact same thing here.

    Senator Clinton is rapidly removing the possibility that I might vote for her even if she does win the Dem primary.

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. Dave D

    I love it! The true Hillary is emerging and playing right into Obama's hands. Her attempt at politeness cannot overcome her true character.

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Liz

    What's up with the words "smear photo"?

    Is Obama ashamed of it?

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. Jim, American in Paris

    Shame on Obama for sending mailers in Ohio which are designed to frighten people, especially those with little money, into thinking Hillary's health care program is bad and won't be affordable!!!
    This is not true.

    He is undermining what is perhaps her center piece as well as her reputation as a very experienced expert on health care.

    These photos of Obama happen to be real and it's about time he and his campaign got real and "change" their negative tactics.

    After all, Hillary is leading him in both Texas and Ohio and it's obvious he's just trying everything to bring her down out of pure desperation.

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. tim

    Sure looks like an act of complete desperation to me. HRC seems to know that March 4th will be the end of her campaign. Pretty dirty politics, but nothing new from the Clinton campaign. She obviously knows she can't beat Obama without these tactics...but I don't think she can win with these tactics either. Obama '08!

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. Crazy people!

    Has the world gone nuts? You folks are commenting on something that NO ONE knows where it actually was released from – duh!

    Has it occured to anyone that you are all be duped????

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  25. Voter

    Who cares what religion Obama, Hilary or any canditate is. Last time I checked we have freedom of religion!

    February 25, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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